US Senate panel approves Haspel as new Central Intelligence Agency chief despite torture claims

During her hearing before the committee, Haspel told lawmakers the spy agency shouldn't have relied on those tactics and has promised not to restart them.

Haspel, now the CIA's deputy director, has come under fire from Democrats over her role in the agency's post-9/11 era interrogation and detention practice.

Haspel played an integral role in the CIA's illegal torture program. The committee voted 10-5 to move her on to a full Senate floor vote.

A week ago, her appointment was in serious doubt nearly exclusively because of her role in the intelligence agency's interrogation and detention program that included waterboarding, a form of torture that forces subjects to experience the panicked sensation of drowning. But at least five Democrats in the Senate have said they will back her, "all but assuring" she'll be confirmed, per the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, Haspel faced tough questions from the intelligence committee about her role in past CIA interrogations and controversial techniques, like waterboarding. "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying".

But the Democrats backing Haspel have pointed to her endorsement from a wide range of former intelligence officials, including top Obama administration officials, as well as an acknowledgment in a Tuesday letter that she believed the interrogation program was damaging and shouldn't have been conducted, something she didn't say at her public hearing. "Gina Haspel is the most qualified person the president could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70 year history of the agency", said committee chairman Richard Burr.

Haspel, a 33-year CIA veteran, is now the agency's acting director. Democrats have complained that the agency has been selective in its declassification of information about her. Haspel has been criticized for supervising a Central Intelligence Agency black site in Thailand where detainees were brutally interrogated, as well as for her role in the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency interrogation tapes.

Attention now turns to the vote by the full Senate, which has not yet been scheduled.

Republicans John McCain and Rand Paul have announced their opposition to her. She joined the CIA in 1985 and has held a collection of high-ranking positions on the intelligence company all through her prolonged profession, together with senior management positions inside the company's Nationwide Clandestine Service, which oversees the company's spy operations overseas and its most covert operations packages.

After the vote on Wednesday, many Democrats expressed concern about Haspel's nomination. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), siding with their Republican colleagues.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Tuesday that her confirmation vote could come as early as this week.

While an executive summary of the report was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during their deliberations on whether to advance Haspel's nomination, the full report remains classified.

  • Jon Douglas